Science and energy


A Science view.

At the top of the tree in the general business of the provision of energy, is electricity. It is, in fact, no overstatement to say that without a reliable high quality electricity supply to every home and business in the country, the economy would collapse.

The electricity generating industry is a highly complex one, and relies upon a thoroughly competent knowledge of the sciences, physics, chemistry and the necessary engineering to achieve the necessary standards. If the science does not "add up" for a course of action, that policy will fail. Completely.

And yet what do we find in the policies of Her Majesties Government, of all colours; policy is laid down in law on the methods of generation and distribution to be followed, by a body of politicians and businessmen having little if any understanding of the sciences involved.

The generating methods available to us involve either generating heat, from coal, gas oil or nuclear means, and using this to raise steam to operate generating sets. Or we can turn to "renewables", as is the flavour of the moment.

The former systems have proved a reliable and economic source of power, countrywide, for over eighty years; when the light switch is pushed, we absolutely expect the power to be there; it is utterly essential.

All "renewables", however, have one feature in common; they cannot generate electricity on demand. Their product is provided on a "take when you can get it" basis. And it cannot be stored, no practical industrial-scale method is known.

But renewables are well regarded in business circles, a confidence founded on government subsidies paid to the industry regardless of practical detractions. In the Ernst and Young report extolling the prospect of the "renewable" business, it was quite plainly stated to this writer that scientific and technical considerations of fitness to purpose, were in no way considered. It was an business accountancy exercise, made viable by subsidy from HMG.

To be continued!Richard Phillips

Topics: edie
Tags: | coal | gas | nuclear | renewables | Subsidies
Click a keyword to see more stories on that topic, view related news, or find more related items.


You need to be logged in to make a comment. Don't have an account? Set one up right now in seconds!

© Faversham House Ltd 2011. edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.